Monday, November 19, 2012

My Best Thanksgiving Dinner Tip Ever & Recipes

My best Thanksgiving dinner tip ever came from Bobby Flay & it rocked my world!  It's very simple: Let your turkey rest (cool) for one hour before carving.  This will help keep in the juices and make it much easier to handle when carving, but the most wonderful part of all ... This solves the big problem of how to cook all your side dishes.  Just put them in the oven when the bird comes out.  An hour later your turkey will still be warm, especially when your pour hot gravy over it.  I did this last year and it worked fabulously!

Click on this link for a demo from Bobby on carving a turkey.

 Delicious Turkey Stuffing 

Pull Apart Bread ~ Welcome on any holiday breakfast table.
I put these two loaves on the platter while they were still very hot, slightly pulled them apart, and then drizzled with icing.  Yum!

Rachel makes this super yummy Corn Bread Pudding (Corn Casserole) every Thanksgiving & we love it! 

Water Rolls

 Best Every Cherry Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mom's Turkey Stuffing

This is my mother's recipe for turkey stuffing and
it's always been a family favorite.

2/3 cup vegetable shortening (but I use canola oil)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 & 1/3 Tablespoons parsley
1 & 1/2 cup hot water (you may substitute turkey broth)
16-18 slices cubed white bread (I like to use potato bread) 

Optional: 1 apple, cut in small cubes.

Melt shortening.  Mix in onion & celery & cook over medium heat until just golden brown. Stir in salt, pepper, poultry seasoning & parsley.  Stir in hot water.  Pour over cubed bread.  Mix.  Stir in apples*.

Bake covered at 350 about 1 hour or stuff in turkey and follow directions for baking turkey.

I usually make a double recipe for my family of 9 for Thanksgiving, and we usually have some left overs, but not for long.  :) 

*If you plan to bake the stuffing in a casserole dish and not in the turkey, the apples need to be sauteed in 1 Tablespoon butter until tender before adding to the stuffing, but this is not necessary if you bake the stuffing in the turkey.

I love this oval baker by Rachel Ray.  The lid keeps in the moisture and makes the stuffing the consistency of cooking it in the turkey without all the hassle.  And ... when she says it's non-stick, she really does mean it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Glimpse into the Life of a WWII Veteran


My father volunteered to serve his country in the United States Army when he was just 17 years old.  Like so many of his generation, he rarely talked about his experiences in the war.  Maybe it was painful memories, or that he preferred to keep much of his personal feelings private, or a combination of both.  Anyhow, we have few and sketchy details of his time in WWII.  However, I did manage to discover a few particulars over the years.

Bernard C. Koch entered the service right after high school, and he fought in the Pacific Theater in The Philippines.  He was an Army Sergeant and he received two bronze stars and a purple heart, among other awards.  He was wounded in action and then very sick with malaria while he traveled back to The States on a hospital ship.

Dad & His Mother
My Dad passed away in March of this year.  He was 89 years old, the father of 10 children, 19 grand-children, and 2 (now 3) great grand-children.  With family & friends gathered for the funeral, my Aunt Mary-Lou (Dad’s youngest sister) caught my attention when she began to speak of my father as a young man.  “He wasn’t like this before the war, but when he came home, you could make all the noise and racket around him while he was sleeping, and not disturb him one little bit. But if you touched him, Oh my!  His whole body would jolt and wake with such a start!”

This particularly interested me, because as far back as I can remember, my father would often take a short nap on our living room recliner before dinner, and my mother would send me to wake him when it was time to eat.  Aunt Mary Lou’s story was all too familiar.  I would stand right next to him and loudly call out, “Dad! … DAD! … DAD!” all to no avail.  It would never work, but I’d try anyway.  Then I knew what needed to be done.  I had to gently touch his arm, and then jump back quickly to avoid his flailing arms and legs.  He would wake with a jump in a panic, speedily scanning the living room, “What? … What?  … What’s happening?”  Then calm down when he recognized it was just me.  As far as I know, this continued throughout his entire life.

Notice the arrow pointing to my Dad.  He was carrying a sidearm and thus was not required to salute.        

Aunt Mary Lou’s words really struck me, “He wasn’t like this before the war …”  I had never really thought about this habit of my father’s.  I think I just figured it was a quirk of his personality.  Now I believe it must have been a result of the horrors of combat.”  To some, it may seem like a small thing, but he never got over it.  For 65 plus years the trauma stayed with him, and I wonder if he ever slept peacefully after the war. 

This made me think of all our combat veterans, and the very high price they pay in serving our country.  I wonder about them and what they suffer without their families and friends being able understand their pain.  How they must need our love and support and prayers.  What a debt of gratitude we owe to them.  May the LORD bless and keep our United States Military.

Happy Veterans Day & Many, Many Thanks!

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
~Romans 13:7~

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oatmeal Prune Cake

This is an old fashioned, home made, make you feel good all over, cake.  It's absolutely delicious and my family loves it!

The original recipe calls for dates instead of prunes, and this cake works equally well with them, but sometimes they are not available in stores (seasonal item), and prunes are a little cheaper.  I also use canola oil in my recipe instead of shortening  ... keeps it a little lighter.  The recipe came from my sweet motherI have no idea where she got it from, only that it's a winner!

Oatmeal Prune Cake

1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup hot water

1 cup finely cut prunes (or dates)
1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 & 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix oatmeal & 1 cup hot water in a small bowl & let cool.  In another small bowl, mix prunes & 1/2 cup hot water & let cool.  In a large bowl, cream together: oil, brown sugar & white sugar.  Add: 2 beaten eggs & vanilla.  Add:  oatmeal mixture & dry ingredients alternately.  Stir in prune mixture.  Pour into a greased & floured tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 50-60 or until done.  Cool slightly & remove the outer pan wall from cake.  Cool completely & invert onto cake plateDrizzle with icing.

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 & 1/2  Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Bring brown sugar, butter & milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.  Immediately, drizzle the icing over cake.  (If you wait too long the icing will be too thick to drizzle.

My mother used a simple powdered sugar & milk glaze for this cake, but I prefer this praline frosting. 

Your family & friends will LOVE this cake!

I like to place the tube pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil, because sometimes the pan will leak a little batter.  

Cool completely.  Run a knife underneath the cake and invert cake onto a plate.  

Don't worry.  It tastes way better than it looks!

So moist & delicious  ... You won't be sorry.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park

Jeff & I recently spent a day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This beautifully preserved wilderness is located near Estes Park, Colorado, and it covers an area of 265,873 acres.  It was a lovely day spent celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary.

"Hear the summons night and day
Calling us to come away.

From the heights we leap and flow,
To the valleys down below.

 Always answering to the call,
To the lowest place of all.

Sweetest urge and sweetest pain,

To go low and rise again."
~Hinds' Feet on High Places~

We saw some elk cows off in the distance.

The bulls were by themselves.

I went to get a closer look.

Mountain Man got bored with my picture taking and went for a short hike.


These elk were magnificent!

 Antlers in velvet are sensitive (making the elk more docile)
and can grow up to one inch in a day.

 Elks eyes are designed to detect movement.
The can see ahead, beside and somewhat behind them.

An average bull weighs 700 pounds and stands five feet at the shoulder.

 A set of antlers on a mature bull can weigh up to 40 pounds.

 Elk are herbivores, which means they only eat plants.

Their diet may include grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees.

These elk were above 11,000 feet.  
The temperature was a very pleasant 60 degrees.

 About one million elk live in the western United States.

Beauty, Power & Grace ~ Courtesy of The Creator

These elk looked much bigger & scarier in person!
I was glad I had my long lens.

 Breath Taking!

Don't forget to visit Laura's Ice Cream in Estes Park.
My personal favorite: Turtle Ice Cream served in a waffle cone
that's been dipped in chocolate & toffee. 
It's so worth the trip!

I am the bread of life:
he that cometh to me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on me
shall never thirst.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Strawberry Kiwi Cake

I "made-over" a Pampered Chef recipe (Strawberry Kiwi Torte) to create this delicious, summer time sensation.

This cakes has all my favorites:  moist white cake, a cheese cake icing, strawberry filling and fresh strawberries.  

It's a bit involved, so I only make it once or twice a year, but it's well worth my time, because the family loves it.

I often thought several of these, nicely arranged, maybe one or two on crystal, cake pedestals would make a beautiful wedding cake.  


White cake mix
3 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water

1/2 cup water
3 oz box strawberry jello (I use sugar free)
3/4 cup seedless strawberry jam

1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 lemon (2 tablespoons lemon juice)
1/3 cup cold milk
16 oz whipped topping (cool whip) thawed
1 small box instant cheesecake pudding (I use sugar free.)

2 pints fresh strawberries
5 fresh kiwi


Prepare 2 - 8" round white cakes according to the directions on the package.  Cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl microwave 1/2 cup water on high 1-2 minutes or until boiling. Add strawberry jello and stir until dissolved.  Add jam and whisk until smooth.

Juice the lemon to measure 2 tablespoons of juice. In a mixing bowl combine softened cream cheese and lemon juice.  Mix with an electric beater until smooth. Add milk and mix again.  Spoon whipped topping over cream cheese mixture but DO NOT MIX. Sprinkle with the pudding mix first, then mix well.  The mixture will be very thick.

Carefully slice the top off of one of the cakes to make it flat.

Slice this cake in half.  You may use a long, serrated knife or a handy-dandy, cake slicer like this one ($4 at Jo-Ann's).

 Take the top half of this cake ...

... and turn it up-side down on a cake plate.

Using a pastry brush, "paint" a layer of strawberry jello filling on this layer.  

Be sure to "paint" all the way to the ends.  Freeze for 5 minutes.  If you don't have room, the fridge will do.

Divide the cream cheese icing into 5 equal parts.  Pretend it's a pie and cut it into 5 pieces. 

Spread one part of the cream cheese icing on this layer.

Next, take the "cut side" of the first cake and "paint" with strawberry filling.  Place in freezer for 5 minutes.

Place strawberry filling side down on first layer.  Press down gently.

"Paint" this layer with strawberry filling.  Freeze 5 minutes.

Place another part of the cream cheese icing on this layer.  Spread evenly.

Cut the second 8" layer cake in half.  "Paint" the very bottom of this layer with strawberry filling.  Freeze for 5 minutes.

Place filling side down on the assembled layers.  Press down gently.  Notice the two bottoms of the 2 layer cakes are now facing each other.

"Paint" with a layer of strawberry filling, and freeze for 5 minutes.

Add another part of the cream cheese icing.  Spread evenly.

You should be left with the top half of the second layer cake.

Turn it up-side down and "paint" the "cut side" with the last of the strawberry filling.  Freeze for 5 minutes.

Place this layer, filling side down, on the assembled layers.  Gently press down.  Freeze for 20 minutes.  This will help "set-up" the cake and keep it from sliding when you finish icing it.

Hull and wash strawberries and let dry completely.  (If they are not dry they will "run" into the icing.)  Set aside 12 of your best looking strawberries that are all about the same size for the top of the cake.

I use a paring knife to peel the kiwi.  Then slice into 2/8"-3/8" disks. Cut these in half.  Pat dry with a paper towel, so they won't "run" into the icing.

You should have 2 parts of cream cheese icing left.  Use one part to ice the sides of the cake.

And the last part to ice the top.

Decorate the cake with the strawberries and the kiwi.  

Cut the remaining strawberries and kiwi into small pieces to serve with the cake.  Refrigerate cake and extra fruit.  Serves 12.

 Oh ... So pretty!

Oh ... So good!

Oh ... So sensational!